What exactly are some of the world’s best cyclists using now to outperform the their peers, whilst maintaining their health throughout the year?
Well, simply put, it all comes down to your DNA, which could hold the secret to unlocking and improving your health and performance.
Our genetic blueprint determines how the body responds to environmental factors including diet, stress and exercise.
Everyone responds differently, so by profiling an individual to find out their genetic predisposition to each of these factors, it becomes possible to tailor your training and diet to work in conjunction with your DNA, which gives cyclists the ultimate starting point and foundation to build upon, to help improve both their performance but more importantly their health.
Muhdo Health is one such company that is pioneering the science of genomics. Analysing the key genetic variations that we all individually have to help simplify our understanding of how these tiny variations can affect how your muscles form and behave, to how your body utilises the food which you choose to eat each day and then whether you are likely to be deficient in certain vitamins or minerals.
Muhdo teamed up with Madison last year, profiling a variety of riders from both the Genesis and Saracen teams.
Connor Swift and Joey Walker were just two of the riders that were keen to see how after a quick analysis of their genetic code, they could hopefully unlock a few key areas that they either might have not of thought about or just simply overlooked.
So after taking their initial DNA tests they were both pleasantly surprised that being an elite level athlete was actually confirmed in their genes and that they were both highly gifted in various outcomes such as Muscle Stamina, Strength, Lactate Threshold and V02 levels.
But what about their possible weakness, and what could they then do to improve them to optimise each time they get on their bike.
Both Conor and Joey (as with all of us) had various vitamins and minerals that they were less efficient at genetically converting and utilising. This will have a dramatic effect on multiple areas associated with their health and performance.
Conor had an increased risk of deficiency with magnesium as the genes associated with the transportation and absorption weren’t quite as efficient.
Magnesium is fundamentally important to your training as it allows the muscles to relax and improves muscle function, restores muscle length and circulation, which will improve your performance and reduce the chances of you becoming injured.
Conor also metabolises caffeine ( more about caffeine and stress ) extremely quickly which can be the cause of a few issues as well, due to the fact that the performance and cognitive enhancing effects that caffeine has will be short lived, which can in many instance see that individual regularly top up with more caffeine to attain more of a kick.
Unfortunately with any action you will also get an opposing reaction with dehydration, increased adrenaline and cortisol levels, which could lead to tissue degeneration and an increased chance of injury.
Joey on the other hand had an issue utilising selenium, which is an extremely important antioxidant that prevents cellular/ subcellular lipids and fats from being peroxidised, meaning it prevents your body fat from going rancid.
During long distance cycling the body will be placed under an immense amount of stress, causing the body to produce Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) also referred to as free radicals.
Selenium helps to combat this, but unfortunately Joey was completely unaware that his antioxidant levels were being affected.
After tweaking a few key nutritional areas Joey actually knocked 30 seconds off his 10 mile PB in just a matter of weeks, which goes to show that even the smallest adjustments can allow for major improvements.
Muhdo are also offering a “Worlds First” for the consumer and health tech fan with a process called Epigenetic tracking, which allows you to actively monitor the effect that your diet, exercise and environment are actually having on your genes expression and health.
Your genes are as only effective as the stimulus that they are given, so understanding how specific foods or the amount of time you are out on your bike and the pollution that then you might be exposed to each day, will then allow you to make certain lifestyle recommendations to hopefully to improve your health and negate any harmful effects.
You don’t need to be an aspiring Geraint Thomas or looking to smash your personal best each week for a DNA test to prove useful though.
Understanding your inner workings and what actually makes you will allow you to make little changes to your lifestyle that are easy to implement and stick to, which will ultimately put you on the path to improving your health and wellbeing.